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WITHIN-COLONY RELATEDNESS IN A TERMITE SPECIES: GENETIC ROADS TO EUSOCIALITY?

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Hamilton's theory predicts that relatedness asymmetries, with higher relatedness between alloparents and brood than between parents and brood, favour the evolution of eusociality. The haplodiploid reproductive system of the social Hymenoptera does indeed produce relatedness asymmetries, but the diplodiploid system of the eusocial Isoptera does not automatically do so. Three mechanisms that might favour relatedness asymmetries, and therefore eusociality, in termites have been extensively debated: First, substantial inbreeding generates the background for effective kin-selection. Second, inbreeding-outbreeding cycles within and between colonies cause a higher relatedness between individuals of the same generation than between them and their potential offspring. This would be analogous to the haplodiploid system. Third, translocation complexes of sex-linked chromosomes may generate higher relatedness within sexes than between sexes, again analogous to the haplodiploid system. We tested these three hypotheses for the African termite Schedorhinotermes lamanianus (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae) using estimates of within-colony relatedness derived by multilocus DNA fingerprinting with a synthetic oligonucleotide probe. We found little support for any of the three hypotheses. We observed inbreeding to occur only during one or a few generations within colonies, which is unlikely to be an operational basis for ongoing kin-selection. Overall, we conclude that ecological factors and constraints must be considered a major selective force.

10.1163/156853999501702
/content/journals/10.1163/156853999501702
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853999501702
1999-10-01
2016-09-25

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